Bertani’s Staircase: Mystery Solved

robie on restaurant verandaThe only To Catch A Thief location that has given me fits is the staircase leading down to Bertani’s restaurant.  I had reached the frustrating conclusion that it was destroyed forever when the port was renovated in the 1970’s.

Well, not so fast.

Grant and Hitchcok below “Bertani’s Steps” in Monaco.

Enter Luca, a devoted Le Stuff reader from Turin, Italy.

Luca and I had exchanged a few Emails regarding TCAT’s picnic site (which he correctly located) when he told me that he had also found Bertani’s steps.

I was skeptical.

I soon learned, though, never to underestimate a man on a mission.

Luca had indeed located the steps and the process by which he discovered them is a veritable lesson in tenacity.

How did he do it?

First, he studied the scene in which Cary Grant (aka John Robie) gets off the bus in Monaco (pictured below) before descending the steps down to the restaurant.  I had always focused on the balustrade, hoping it might be the visual clue that would lead to the actual location.  Luca honed in on a house with three windows on the left side of the screen, seen here at 0:30. 

He then began scouring the Internet in search of the house: a photograph, film, anything that might provide a clue. 

He found what he was looking for while watching the 1957 Monaco Grand Prix on Youtube. 

There it was, the house with three windows, in plain view at the end of a sharp curve on the Route de la Piscine (see it here at 12:40).

Buoyed by the discovery, Luca continued his quest, eventually coming up with his piece de resistance, the stairs themselves.

To Catch A Thief was filmed in 1954, only three years before the 57 Grand Prix. The port was not renovated until the 1970’s, so the double staircase seen here (bottom right of the screen) is, indeed, the actual location used by Hitchcock in 1954.

Here, built on roughly the same spot as the original at 1 Route de la Piscine, is the new staircase today.

Mystery solved.

Thank you Luca.

p.s. The mystery of Bertani’s Restaurant remains unsolved.  Was there an actual restaurant at the foot of the steps?

 

23 Comments

Filed under Films, To Catch A Thief

23 responses to “Bertani’s Staircase: Mystery Solved

  1. Frantz Aschengreen

    Good work! Been trying to solve the riddle myself! However, the mystery about Bertani’s still remains (…that wonderfully charming place!)

    • Thank you Frantz. I may have to turn Le Stuff completely over to Luca! Just received an Email from him promising new information on Bertani’s restaurant. I’ll post asap.

  2. David Saldana

    Great! At last! Looks like some kind of restaurant now beside the stairs in the google photos.

    • Thanks so much for the comment David. Luca apparently has new info on Bertani’s restaurant. Will post soon, I hope. Thinking about just handing him the keys to Le Stuff!

  3. Hugo Wobschall

    Hello. A big thank you for all this wonderful information. This film has such a hold on me and this site stokes the fire.
    Are there no historical documents or town records that would prove or disprove the existence of a restaurant there? If there was it must have paid taxes and rates etc?
    Hugo

    • Excellent point Hugo. That’s on my “to do” list in the (hopefully) near future. I’m not sure if there would be anything online but I’ll check. If not I’ll have to wait until my next visit to Monaco. Thanks for the great comment.

      • Hugo Wobschall

        Thanks. Look forward to that. Probably not on line. Will take some old fashioned leg work!

      • Hugo

        Hello. Watching the restaurant scene last night there almost certainly was not a restaurant there. The film cuts from Grant walking past the tables straight to a front view of the restaurant building (as Marco says above) which is clearly a film set. And Hitchcock was always more comfortable in the studio than on location.

      • Thanks for your comment Hugo. With no concrete evidence to the contrary I have to agree with you (I wrote about it in a previous post here). Thanks for reading Le Stuff!

      • Hugo

        Ah! You have already covered it thoroughly.

  4. Marco

    Thanks a lot for the info! Indeed one more mystery seems to be solved. I will be very curious if there was really a restaurant. I doubt it to be true – since we never see a full view of the restaurant’s entrance from the outdoor terrasse. But – we will see! Would be an awesome surprise if a restaurant really existed there – I would sure go there for dining some time :-)

    • Wow that has to be the exact place where Robie walks down to the restaurant. Everything lines up perfectly it seems to me. Thanks so much Goran!

      • Rudi

        I did some research on these stairs Goran posted and found out they were located more on the center od the port, where the Nautical stadium is now. So definitely not the right stairs.

  5. Rudi

    Hi all. Huge fan of the movie and riviera myself :)
    I found some old photos of the port and tought it would be nice to share it.

    This one is from around 1950 and has a nice view of the stairs:
    http://media.gettyimages.com/photos/circa-1950-la-condamine-the-main-port-area-and-business-quarter-in-picture-id3359187

    And another one:

    Unfortunately no sign of any restaurant.

    • Thanks so much Rudi! I always love getting great pics and feedback! I think at this point we can reasonably assume that Bertani’s restaurant was created for the movie…

      • Rudi

        Thank you LeStuff, it is a pleasure! :)

        I did some further research in past few days and found a new interesting photo. This one is from 1960 and you can see a building (buttom left corner) right at the foot of the steps which looks like it could be a restaurant. Exactly the same location as in the movie. Also I noticed that this building already existed in 1956 when I was watching the old short video of Grace Kelly arriving to Monaco.

        Here’s the photo.

        Now, if I could only somehow find out what this building was and when it was built :)

  6. Frantz Aschengreen

    Wow, everybody…Great efforts and incredible pictures!! I love the way this movie still keeps us all mesmerized and searching! And what a pity that Bertani’s is only a figment of Hitch’s imagination (not to complain, of course!). Look forward to more pictures from the vaults!

  7. Rudi

    Another great picture I found after some more digging all over the internet. When I saw it, my first tought was “Bingo, I found the restaurant!” :)
    Same location as in the movie, taken in 1960. There are still those old stairs where Cary Grant was walking down,

    https://images-01.delcampe-static.net/img_large/auction/000/263/732/723_001.jpg?v=0

    So that building I found on the older photos actually was a bar/restaurant. Well, still is. It’s called “La rascasse” which still stand today. Also I found out from the old photos that it was renovated in the sixties.
    Currently I’m trying to find out if it was also called “La rascasse” back then, or it was a diffrent name.

    • This may be the best pic I have seen yet Rudi! Great work!

      • Rudi

        Thank you! I hope to find some more interesting photos.

        You know, watching those old photos of Manaco, it changed quite a bit over the years. I understand, there’s maintenance and new people are moving in so more space is needed, but I hope they’ll stick to the old traditional architectural style. It has some sort of charm which this plain modern doesen’t.

        Oh, and English is my second language, so I hope I didn’t make too many mistakes writing this. :)

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